Sept. 22, 2005
Coming off of a 6-7 year, the Clemson Men’s Swimming and Diving Team will look for experience and new leadership to take them to the next level. While the Tigers lost three seniors who had a major impact on their meets last season, Coach Chris Ip feels that they have the talent to fill those holes.
“Our men’s program lost three powerhouse seniors of Tommy Rappold, Eric Shulick, and Buddy Reed. They all left Clemson with Clemson records, all were member of the Academic Honor Roll, and two had NCAA experience. However, we will look for our upperclassmen to mature and develop into quality swimmers and divers to help fill the gap.”
“It will be a hard act to follow, but we want our upperclassmen and underclassmen to emulate them and fill their shoes, but that is the direction that we want to go. We definitely have high expectations with the small men’s squad, so the men that are on the team need to do the job. That means that freshman coming in need to step up and be mature. College student-athletes have to learn that very quick. Their learning curve has to be extremely short. That means I will be turning to my seniors, turning to my juniors, and turning to my sophomores and letting them understand that they are significant parts of the program. We have to get in the water and get ahead of the game as quickly as possible and hit the books as early as possible too.”
The Tigers finished fifth at the ACC Championships in 2005, but had solid swims from key returnees to carry momentum into the upcoming season. Mark Vahle emerged as one of the top sprinters in the ACC as a freshman. He recorded the 3rd fastest time in Clemson history in the 50 free (20.14) on his way to a 4th place finish. Senior captain Jonathan Mengering earned three top 11 finishes, all with career best times.
Clemson will look to its versatility this year to be a strength for them.
“We have some great versatile swimmers in the middle distance free with Mark Vahle, who had an outstanding freshman year to anchor all the relays whenever he can.
The 2005 Tigers will again try to rewrite the history books. They currently have ten swimmers who have entered the Clemson all-time top ten in individual events. Vahle is 3rd in the 50 free, Mengering is ranked 7th in the 200 free (1:39.37), 2nd in the 500 free (4:24.67), and 4th in the 1650 free (15:28.13). Sophomore Stephen Russell cracked the all-time top ten in the 200 free (1:39.65) as he recorded the 9th fastest time.
Senior Jordan Raynovich is 7th in the 200 IM (1:51.14) and 8th in the 400 IM (3:58.50). Junior Joel Johnson ranks 6th (49.78), and senior Charlie Dillon is 7th (1:49.45) in the 100 and 200 backstrokes respectively. Ben Kanoy earned a 10th place spot on the list in the 200 fly (1:50.41) at the 2005 ACC Championships. In the breaststroke events, there were two Tigers cracking into the top 10. Andy Bergren moved into 6th in the 100 breast (55.98) and the 200 breast (2:02.73), while Attila Ruszka is ranked 5th in the 100 breast (55.71).
“The sprint freestyle events will be led by talented sophomore Mark Vahle who recorded the 3rd fastest time in Clemson history in the 50 free. He will be accompanied by a group of upperclassmen and freshman that can range from the 50 to the 500. Brian Regone, Stephen Russell, Bryce Herrington, Brian Possee, Matt Balderston, and Daniel Mengering. Our other pure sprinter is freshman Eric Pinno from Maryland.”
The Tigers have a solid core of returning swimmers for the distance events. Clemson will be led by ACC triple scorer Jonathan Mengering. Mengering, who is coming off of his best season as a Tiger, will look to again be a force in the tough ACC distance events. Sean Geary broke out in Clemson’s meet against Georgia Tech where he posted a team season best in the 1000 free (9:22.87). They will be joined by seniors Jordan Raynovich and Greg Middleton, junior Brett MacLennan, and freshman Pal Toth will back them from the 1650 down to the 200 free.
The butterfly events will be manned by senior Mark Vahle will also come over for the sprint fly events.
Returnees Andy Bergren and Attila Ruszka will lead the breaststrokers. Bergren posted the 6th fastest time in Clemson history in the 200 breast and combined with Ruszka to post the 5th and 6th fastest times in the 100 breast. This should help the Tigers with their depth for all of the breaststroke events as well as the medley relays.
In backstroke, Clemson will look to Joel Johnson in the sprint backstroke, and Charlie Dillon for the 200. Johnson was the backstroke leg of the Tigers 200 medley relay that recorded the 2nd fastest time in team history. Dillon, on the other hand, posted a 12th place finish in the 200 back (1:49.53) at the ACC Championships and will look to improve on that as he makes his way up the Clemson all-time list.
In the individual medley’s, senior Jordan Raynovich will lead the way. Raynovich placed 11th in the 200 IM (1:51.26) and 15th in the 400 IM (3:58.89) at the 2005 ACC Championships. These were the highest places by any of the returning Tigers.
Clemson will look for strong relays in the 2005-06 season. The Tigers return 75% of their 200, 400, and 800 freestyle relays, as well as in the 200 medley. Vahle, Russell, and Brian Regone are all returning for the sprint relays. Johnson, Ruszka, Bergren, and Vahle are returning for the medley’s. They 800 free relay could prove to be the strongest one though, as Mengering, Middleton, and Dillon return from the relay, and Russell breaking out in the 200 free could be key for the Tigers.
“Our big goal is to have one of our relays make it to NCAA’s. We had a little more depth in the past with our medley relays, but we are stronger now at the top when we put our best medley relay out there.”
Senior Marsh Lindley will lead the Tigers on the boards this year. Lindley finished 13th in the 3-meter and 18th in the 1-meter at the ACC Championships last year. Diving coach Leslie Hasselbach has added new faces Brian Miller (Germantown, MD), and Paul Berger (Sandusky, OH).
Clemson added Jonathan Kaplan to an already outstanding staff of coaches. He will be working a lot with the technique and new types of training that will help Clemson to become an elite team in the ACC.
“Jonathan has a great passion for the sport and is a student of the sport. He is 100% an educator. He can help us to take charge in the recruiting areas, and he is a great fit for the program.”
January 21, 2021